Remember Second Life was once hailed as the groundbreaking online replica of the real life? Well, it didn’t really work. Technically. But what I find more interesting is that it failed shamelessly at catching up with the complexity of who we are and how we interact. It was and remains utterly limited (although flying was a nice touch). But a workable online replica of our social life is here allright. With the introduction of timeline Facebook puts a history behind each of us. And in doing that it injects more depth into our interactions. While I don’t necessarily dig its cluttered design, it does make sense if you see timeline as a shortcut to knowing someone. Right now Facebook provides us with the most complete, yet customizable version of ourselves that we can run in the online realm. They have my utmost respect for their constant effort to grasp our complexity.
On the other hand, there’s Twitter. Because of its focused, limited and somewhat dull nature, Twitter is condemned to never escape its niche. It could never encompass the whole diversity of how we interact with others. It’s quite the opposite of Facebook and it will probably never truly become mainstream. And then there’s the business model. Facebook knows so painfully much about who we are, what we do and what we want. One day it might become able to predict the rest of our timeline just by analyzing the patterns in our lives and comparing it with those of people similar to us, but older. But until it works out who we’ll be, Facebook already knows better than anyone else on the web who we are. It does that in order to sell us stuff. And it will only get better at it as we spend more and more time using it. Soon it may even become better than us at predicting what we want. Needless to say, there’s tremendous potential value in this.
While I only hold a mere piece of the equation (and yes, I know Facebook’s stock has been plummeting for a while now), I’m doing my job to regard things from a behavioral point of view. From where I’m standing it seems that unlike Yahoo, Myspace and other broken dotcom bubbles, Facebook is here to stay.